In which I rant about a few of our favorite Christmas TV tales and their isms. Also, I learned a new word.
Alright, let’s just get this out of the way: “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” Yes, even as a child I was horrified. Horrified by Santa. What a jerk. He says, in words, actions and reactions, hide or change Rudolph, put him away, he is different and therefor to be hidden, changed or mocked. SANTA! But don’t worry kids because eventually Rudolph’s “difference” saves Christmas, so then we like him.
Let us not forget, however, we do not and shall not accept Rudolph, who is different, until we see how he can help us. Everyone got that?!? I’ve seen this theme repeated in children’s stories all the time. Another example is in “Clifford the Big Red Dog”, same thing, no one wanted to accept the big dog: he’s a nuisance, different, scary. Until he does something to save the village. Then the townspeople say, “Hey! This dog’s alright by me.”
Being different is alright anyway. People get to be different even if their differences don’t serve a purpose to you. I got this at 7, 8, 10…what is with people? Sigh. And the Island of Misfit Toys…heartbreaking. I wrote an all too possible speculative fiction piece with this concept in mind with real children, because, well, all too possible.
The Grinch. Ahh “The Grinch who Stole Christmas.” In both the animated tale by the great Dr. Seuss, and the live-action, slightly reimagined version, from 2000, viewers learn that the Grinch’s heart is too small (this is why he is soo grumpy) and then, after discovering the True meaning of Christmas doesn’t include boxes, and whatchamahoosers, well then his heart grows and he rushes in and gives all the presents back. Proving. Yet again. That:
- 1) Any true display of affection includes a material gift and
- 2) Don’t worry kids! For a true and real happy ending, there will be gifts!
That whole Christmas came without gifts…Psyche! The gifts are really there in wait for a happy ending. Whew. For the record, My family watch both of these stories every year. Multiple times. I don’t fight the story, I just recognize these issues within them.
New Word! Wikipedia told me “…An agathist may see the world as essentially good but a place in which bad things can and do happen to good people.” (See, I’m not all grumpy, or Grinchy, or Scroogy, about Christmas stories.) It could be said that this is the moral of the original Christmas story. I thought immediately of “The Little Drummer Boy,” this was one of my favorites as a child. Although the tale is Disney worthy with the horrors of the poor happy boy’s parents murdered by bandits and his home burned, he then finds refuge with the animals and his ability to make music. (Perhaps I loved this story in part because I would find love someday with my own “drummer boy.”) Anyway, in the end, the drummer boy is vindicated when he shows love and then receives the miracle of his animal friend being healed. Of course, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” and most other Santa stories exemplify this as well.
Marcus’ favorite Christmastime story is Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. We have seen dozens of interpretations of this story, from Mr. Magoo’s (Seriously) to Patrick Stewart as Scrooge, to the musical Scrooge, to Bill Murray’s Scrooged and on and on…This story is quite completely an example with an agathism moral. We watched Scrooged last night and though I’ve seen it about a hundred times, I still cried through the final scene speech from the redeemed Frank Cross. Most of my friends agree that The Muppet’s Christmas Carol is pretty much the best, and though this story also ends in gifts, it is different. It is gifts to those in need, it is gifts of love and appreciation, gifts of life. Plus, and more importantly, it is about gifts that last beyond one day, “Every day will start with a thankful heart,” and, “A promise to share the wealth.” Oh heck, just enjoy the whole finale’ here:
So there we go. What are your favorite Christmas stories and their lessons? What isms have you found in these stories we share with our children? What can we learn?